Effects of climate change on fruit tree physiology - based on 55 years of meteorological and phenological data at Klein-Altendorf

A. Kunz, M.M. Blanke
Meteorological and phenological analogue data were digitised and correlated to a) assess whether and when the climate had changed at Klein-Altendorf, and b) examine its impacts on fruit growing. Meteorological data over 55 years (1958-2013) came from the research centre's own weather station and included air and soil temperature as well as precipitation records. Phenological data over 55 years on filing cards were calendar dates of full bloom, harvest and leaf drop, as well as late frost and consequent yield loss, for a range of apple and pear cultivars, using only bearing fruit trees at the time. This implied i) the use of several generations of fruit trees/orchards and ii) use of original pome varieties, which existed as bearing trees since 1958, and were replanted after the orchard had been grubbed. Analysis and correlation of the meteorological data from the 55 years showed two distinct climate phases in Klein-Altendorf, an earlier 30 year period (1958-1987) with a temperature of -0.4°C below the long-term, 55-year average of 9.4°C, followed by a ca. 25 year period of a +0.6°C temperature rise (1988 to date). A comparison of the phenological data of phase II (1988 to date) with phase I (1958-1987) showed 10 days earlier full bloom, 11 days earlier harvest and 4 days earlier leaf drop in the later phase, resulting in a 5 days longer growing period for 'Golden Delicious' at Klein-Altendorf. An extended vegetation period offers the possibility for growing later ripening varieties. There was no change in the amount of annual precipitation of 594 mm in Klein-Altendorf over the 55 years of observation and records, but the relative distribution changed slightly from ca. 50 mm less precipitation in the summer during the fruit growing period to the spring period.
Kunz, A. and Blanke, M.M. (2016). Effects of climate change on fruit tree physiology - based on 55 years of meteorological and phenological data at Klein-Altendorf. Acta Hortic. 1130, 49-54
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1130.7
apple (Malus domestica Borkh.), flowering, global warming, harvest date, leaf fall, light stress, precipitation, vegetation period, water stress

Acta Horticulturae